Transformers hasn’t been about transforming robots for at least three movies. This is about giant metal men punching each other and causing massive collateral damage for two and a half hours.

Whatever lore survived from the previous movies has been discarded. Through a comparatively interesting opening scene, we learn that transformers have been helping mankind since Arthurian times. But modern society doesn’t understand this (don’t blame them, the plot is incomprehensible) and has now outlawed transformers.

“The plot is incomprehensible.”

There’s also a search for another esoteric artifact – with Earth-saving properties – that requires 45 minutes of tedious explanation.

Mark Wahlberg reprises his role as the everyman protagonist. Former protagonist Shia LaBeouf was presumably too fatigued by CGI explosions to stick with the franchise. (LaBeouf has since taken to drunkenly wandering the streets of Georgia, thankful to be free of the films but clearly not quite the same person he was when he enlisted.)

Wahlberg is fine. Anthony Hopkins joins him to play a learned British historian with a PhD is dispensing exposition. Hopkins is also fine, but neither he nor Wahlberg have much to work with. An obnoxious Shock n’ Awe military jarhead will also show up to yell about killing transformers. It’s a movie loaded with cliched characters and thoughtless action set pieces.

“There’s hardly any transforming.”

The robots still have silly accents, and because parts of the film are now made in England (presumably to satisfy some kind of tax relief arrangement) we get to see a cockney robot too. If you thought that seeing robots turn into cars might make this worthwhile, you’d be wrong – it’s called Transformers but there’s hardly any transforming. Even the film itself is basically unchanged from its prequels.

While the occasional historical sequence stops the movie from becoming quite as bland as the previous entries, nothing else works well; weak characters, an often impenetrable plot and dumb action schlock (through the ages) make for a mind-numbingly dull experience.

★☆☆☆☆

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